Good morning. It’s Tuesday, June 27.
- Routine use of psychedelics sweeps Silicon Valley.
- Bay Area residents who quit flying for the environment.
- And Charles Schulz’s art studio is listed in Sebastopol.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic lawmakers agreed on a $311 billion state budget Monday, ending a standoff that dragged for weeks. In a compromise, Newsom agreed to remove the controversial delta tunnel project, which would divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to points south. But the package retains a plan to streamline environmental clearance for public works projects, the most hotly contested proposal in the negotiations. Kathryn Phillips, the former director of the Sierra Club, called it “an exercise in gutting the last shreds” of CEQA, the landmark California environmental law. L.A. Times
The New York journalist Joe Hagan wrote a 9,300-word “profile” of California for Vanity Fair. A few memorable lines:
- During a dinner party at Susan Orlean’s modernist home in the Hollywood Hills attended by Bari Weiss, the contrarian podcaster, and Nithya Raman, a Democratic Socialist City Council member, among others, conversation turned to home safety. “You know what?” Orlean said. “We were very casual, and then we got robbed in Montecito.”
- Rick Caruso, the billionaire who ran for mayor of Los Angeles, said he suspects the notorious leak of City Council members making racist comments was orchestrated by someone in the camp of his political rival, Mayor Karen Bass. “Karen ran on identity politics, pure and simple,” he said.
- Rachel Kushner, the novelist, on East Coasters who misapprehend California: “They come here and ride around in a car because they’re trying to see a bunch of things at once and they’re not getting a feel for what the place really is. But also they feel offended, especially if they come in December and they see that the lemons and the tangerines and the grapefruits and the oranges are all ripe. And that there’s snow on the San Gabriel Mountains and everyone has a yard. And they’re mad. They’re fucking mad.”
“Didn’t we already vote this down in 2020?”
Democratic state lawmakers have advanced a measure that aims again to revive affirmative action after voters soundly rejected a 2020 effort to undo Proposition 209, California’s 1996 ban on racial preferences. The new measure, which calls for a proposition on the November 2024 ballot, wouldn’t fully overturn the ban, but it would allow state agencies to skirt it with permission from the governor. The bill is an “acknowledgment that Prop. 209 was a failed experiment,” said Assemblymember Corey Jackson. Familiar battle lines are forming. CalMatters
Last month, the L.A. Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds shared his picks for the 101 best California experiences. Readers responded by pointing out what they viewed as some glaring omissions, among them Bodie State Historic Park, Fresno’s Forestiere Underground Gardens, Fort Bragg’s Skunk Train, and the Eastern Sierra’s Whitney Portal, pictured above. See all 29. 👉 L.A. Times
- Download a checklist of Reynolds’ California 101.
The former art studio of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz is for sale in Sebastopol for $3.95 million. Schulz was born in Minneapolis but spent much of his life in Sonoma County, where his legacy is reflected in dozens of “Peanuts” character statues scattered about Santa Rosa. He lived with his large family in a home surrounded by 28 acres of redwood and oak forest in the 1960s and 1970s. The property was later subdivided, carving out a 7-acre parcel that includes the studio and a four-hole golf course. Press Democrat | Dirt
- Also on the market: a rotating home in San Diego County, the “Brady Bunch” house in the San Fernando Valley, and a home designed by Julia Morgan to resemble the White House in the Bay Area.
“It’s pretty significant.”
San Francisco’s office vacancy rate surged to another record high in the second quarter, reaching 31.8%, according to data from CBRE, a real estate brokerage. That’s up from a low of 5% in 2019. CBRE said the amount of vacant office space in the city grew by nearly 2 million square feet in the last three months, as Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest, Salesforce and others shrank their office footprints. S.F. Chronicle
- Is San Francisco a dystopian hellscape? Of course not, but the hometown newspaper is partly to blame for amplifying that narrative, wrote longtime local journalist Jay Barmann. SFist
Divisions over what California owes its Black residents are apparent even within San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church, the Black church that has spearheaded the reparations fight. Pia Harris said reparations must include expanding Black access to credit: “We’re just trying to catch up to where everyone else is.” Gregory Richardson said Black people don’t need handouts: “We need industry to be able to support the Black family.” Alexander T. Williams said what he wants most of all is acknowledgement: “Reparation to me means that the wrong has been recognized. I’ll leave the amount or anything like that to others.” Washington Post
“When you say you care about something, walk the talk.”
When Ariella Granett’s seventh grader came home one day and announced that “the world is burning,” she decided to give up flying. The Berkeley architect has kept to the pledge for four years, vacationing in California and keeping up with distant relatives virtually. Reporter Kate Selig profiled the small but growing number of Bay Area residents who’ve quit flying for the environment. S.F. Chronicle
Cecilia Rabess, a San Francisco author, knew her debut novel would elicit criticism: It centers on a young Black woman working at Goldman Sachs who falls in love with a white coworker with bigoted views. But she was floored to see the novel flooded by one-star reviews on the website Goodreads six months before it was published, with many calling the work racist. Such review-bombing campaigns have become increasingly common. That’s because Goodreads, based in San Francisco, doesn’t require reviewers to have read the book. N.Y. Times
“Elon Musk takes ketamine. Sergey Brin sometimes enjoys magic mushrooms. Executives at venture-capital firm Founders Fund, known for its investments in SpaceX and Facebook, have thrown parties that include psychedelics.”
The Wall Street Journal wrote about a drug movement sweeping Silicon Valley that proponents hope will expand minds, enhance lives, and produce business breakthroughs.
“I’m so sorry for another email, but I am freaking out about the fact I have zero sensitivity in my penis!”
In 2004, a Beverly Hills urologist named James Elist began offering a device he claimed could grow the penis. Thousands of men got surgeries, in which a silicone implant shaped like a hotdog bun is inserted just under the skin of the penis to increase its girth and length. Now a cottage industry has emerged to treat what one former patient has described as a new class of “penile cripples.” Ava Kofma’s investigation into the perils and promise of penile enlargement surgery is masterfully reported and written. ProPublica/New Yorker
Ulises Calderon, a 64-year-old native Salvadoran, has been living on the streets of Bakersfield for years. He’d been playing an out-of-tune piano in an antique shop for tips, but never earned enough to put a roof over his head. Then this month Terry Sanchez, the co-owner of the Bakersfield event venue Brickyard Downtown, came into the shop and heard him play. Blown away, she offered him a job playing for her customers, which he accepted. “He’s a modern-day Beethoven here in Bakersfield,” she said. Tehachapi News
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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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